Responding to "Green Politics," Part Three
- Wednesday, June 27, 2007
However, Dr. Edward Wegman, a professor at the Center for Computational Statistics at George Mason University, chair of the National Academy of Sciences' Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, and board member of the American Statistical Association was asked by the energy and commerce committee of the U.S. House of Representatives to evaluate the statistical validity of Michael Mann's findings.
Wegman conducted his third-party review by assembling an expert panel of statisticians, including outside statisticians and the Board of the American Statistical Association. At its conclusion, the Wegman review repudiated Mann's work saying:
Our committee believes that the assessments that the decade of the 1990s was the hottest decade in a millennium and that 1998 was the hottest year in a millennium cannot be supported. … The paucity of data in the more remote past makes the hottest-in-a-millennium claims essentially unverifiable.
Dr. Wegman is considered the preeminent expert in the world on "computational statistics." (He actually the coined the term). Wegman found that Mann made a basic error that "may be easily overlooked by someone not trained in statistical methodology." When Wegman corrected Mann's statistical mistakes, the "hockey stick" disappeared.
Furthermore, Wegman pointed out "there is no evidence that Dr. Mann or any of the other authors in paleoclimate studies have had significant interactions with mainstream statisticians." In other words, Wegman believes that much of the climate science that has been done should be taken with a grain of salt--despite the fact that the studies may have been peer reviewed, the reviewers were often unqualified in statistics.
What is most telling is the reaction of the climatology community to Wegman's revelation. Many now agree that Mann's "hockey stick" graph may be wrong but they nonetheless say his conclusions are correct. In response, Wegman later testified before the energy and commerce committee saying: "I am baffled by the claim that the incorrect method doesn't matter because the answer is correct anyway. Method Wrong + Answer Correct = Bad Science." Science which begins with and stubbornly clings to its materialistic assumptions about reality is not science; it is false religion.
Lesslie Newbigin, noted theologian and author, makes the point, "For modern Western peoples--nature has taken the place of God as the ultimate reality with which we have to deal." The creation of an epic battle against catastrophic global warming provides these a tangible means of "dealing" with their new god, expressing their "worship," and finding a sense of meaning and purpose. In support of these goals it should not be surprising to see them make the science fit their belief system even when presented with contradicting evidence. This is where the "faith" of these true believers comes into play.
Next week we will explore the question of causation.
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S. Michael Craven is the Founding Director of the Center for Christ & Culture, a ministry of the National Coalition for the Protection of Children & Families. The Center for Christ & Culture is dedicated to renewal within the Church and works to equip Christians with an intelligent and thoroughly Christian approach to matters of culture in order to recapture and demonstrate the relevance of Christianity to all of life. For more information on the Center for Christ & Culture, additional resources and other works by S. Michael Craven visit: www.battlefortruth.org.
Michael lives in the Dallas area with his wife Carol and their three children.
© 2007 S. Michael Craven
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